Ask the Dentist: Is Oil Pulling Safe?

Oil Pulling


It’s been awhile since Family Dental Care Park Ridge has had an “Ask the Dentist” question featured!  Well, hang onto your hats because today’s question is a great one! 

“I’ve been hearing a lot about oil pulling recently.  What is it and is oil pulling safe?”

What a fun question!  We have been hearing it asked a lot in our office and felt that it is about time to talk about this interesting topic.

First of all, what is oil pulling? 

ParkRidgeDDS Oil Pulling definition

Here’s the skinny on oil pulling.  Oil pulling should be done in the morning before you have brushed your teeth or eaten anything.  One to two teaspoons of good quality(preferably organic) coconut oil (you can use other oils but coconut oil tastes the best and, because of its antibacterial component, seems to work the best)  is placed in the mouth and swished for anywhere from 10-20 minutes.  The swishing is the key here.  The oil is swished through and between the teeth in a rhythmic method without swallowing or spitting.  The oil will become a thin frothy material at the end of the process.  At the end of the 10-20 minutes, this frothy mixture should be spit into a trash receptacle.  You don’t want to spit it into your sink or septic system because the spit mixture should have a lot of  bacteria and toxins from your mouth.  Once you have spit the oil/saliva mixture out, you will rinse your mouth a few times with warm water and then brush your teeth.  Your teeth and gums should feel exceptionally clean and fresh.  You may even notice that your teeth are whiter after you have done the oil pulling for awhile.  It is recommended that oil pulling be done daily. 

So, does it work?  

There is some evidence that oil pulling reduces the bacteria level in your mouth.  This then leads to a decrease in gingivitis and even the bacteria that can cause decay.  The American Dental Association doesn’t have many articles about the pros and cons of oil pulling but refers to it as an alternative treatment.  

Is it safe?

When patients ask us about oil pulling at Family Dental Care Park Ridge, we tell them what we know about it and we let them know that we feel it is safe when done properly.  As dentists, we are always excited about treatments that encourage and enhance oral health.  Oil pulling is an oral health regime that encourages awareness of caring for the teeth and gums.  And, often, we can’t ask for more than that! 

If you have any questions about oil pulling or any other dental related issues, please email us at or give us a call at 847.692.6800 and we would be happy to help you!

And remember, as always…we LOVE making you smile!




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This is interesting information, Claudia, thanks for sharing it!


Are you kidding me?  As a dental colleague, I am absolutely embarrassed to see something this nonsensical posted in a way that indicates that oil-pulling is a good thing.  Have you actually done any research?  Do you know WHY the ADA only lists it as an "alternative method?"  Did you know that the ONLY studies done on it come from a single researcher in India, and none of the studies would even pass an initial trial stage here in the US?  The data is absolutely meaningless.

Brush for 2 minutes, floss for 1 minute, rinse with a non-alcohol-based mouthrinse or Chlorhexidine for 1 minute, and not only have you done better than pulling with oil, you've saved yourself 16 minutes.

As a professional, we should hold ourselves to higher standards, rather than going along with whatever useless fad is sweeping Facebook.

The truth is that oil-pulling has ZERO scientific basis.  Sure, it's probably safe, but it's worthless.


ParkRidgeDDS moderator

@smilesbypayet  Hello Dr. Payet.  Thank you for taking the time to read my post and for weighing in with your thoughts.  You passion and strong feelings are very clear and I am happy you have shared your thoughts here!  I completely agree that brushing for 2 minutes and flossing for 1 minute twice daily is what everyone should be doing to maintain good oral health.  Oil pulling is not intended to replace this routine but, if people are interested in doing it, it can be used as an adjunct to the brushing and flossing routine...and perhaps I did not make that point clear enough in this post.  If people want to use oil pulling as part of their oral health routine (in addition to the recommended brushing and flossing), the information I shared here is just a brief overview of what oil pulling is and whether or not it is safe. Again, thank you for sharing your well thought out opinion and for stopping by!